Local guides

Where to find the best Philly cheesesteak
Published 21 November 2023

Credit: Pat's King of Steaks

As a tribute to Thanksgiving, we salute that great American food classic, the Philly cheesesteak. Messy, greasy and utterly delicious, it’s never better than eaten in its hometown, Philadelphia – the birthplace of the United States. The Good Food Guide's editor Elizabeth Carter give us the lowdown on where to find the best.

I’m just back from a US trip that took in Philadelphia, a city I visit almost as much as New York, and a reacquaintance with that Philadelphia institution, the Philly cheesesteak. The (very) long bread roll filled with sizzling fried beef and onions and dripping with melty American cheese (the classic option), Provolone or Whiz (Cheez Whiz, Kraft’s processed cheese spread), is the subject of constant discussion (and argument) as where to get the best. This trip found me in the queue of Angelo’s Pizzeria, one of my Philadelphia family’s favourite venues, and it sparked a debate on which would be our top three.

Where to find the best Philly cheesesteak
Credit: Angelo’s Pizzeria

The most famous spots are Pat’s and Geno’s in South Philadelphia. Pat’s King of Steaks (est. 1930) claims to be the inventor of the ‘cheesesteak sandwich’, nearby Geno’s (est. 1966) claims to make the best. Both grills run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the big difference being that Geno’s steaks are sliced not chopped. Though both are considered fine, neither makes our top three list.

We’re divided, however, on who makes the best. Delassandro’s in Roxborough has the edge, though it’s not the easiest place to get to if you don’t know the city and surrounding areas. About eight miles north of the city centre, it’s quite a drive for most Philadelphians just to buy a sandwich, but what a sandwich! And for fans, this is a landmark location, well worth the detour. Easier to check out, and unlike the other cheesesteak venues which trade on their slightly grungy, been-there-for-years, join-the-queue tradition, Joe’s Steaks and Soda Shop in Fishtown (est. 1949) has a cooler look and vibe. Revamped and rebranded in 2013, Joe’s offers a proper sit-down restaurant – and its cheesesteak is one of the best.

Where to find the best Philly cheesesteak
Credit: Joe's Steaks and Soda Shop

The very good, made-on-the-premises roll filled with shredded steak and melted Cooper Sharp cheese from Angelo’s Pizzeria in South Philadelphia, is our third-place choice. Angelo’s has the added advantage of being on the edge of the excellent Italian Market on 9th Street – one of the largest and oldest outdoor markets in the US – and worth exploring once you’ve placed your order as there is usually a 30-minute wait before pick up. The pizzas, we noted, were just as popular and looked good.

But honourable mention must go to John’s Roast Pork, an Italian roast pork and cheesesteak eatery, also in South Philadelphia (est. 1930), for its namesake roast pork sandwich, served in a crusty roll (order with Provolone and sautéed spinach), as well as for the delicious cheesy cheesesteak.